Russia — Bandit Nation
“I came today as I am deeply sorry and disgusted for Russia: how can you just shoot people down in broad daylight in the centre of Moscow?”
— Alexandra Fomina, a prominent Russian artist, visiting the scene of the Markelov assassination the day after the killing
“We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
— U.S. President Barack H. Obama, Inaugural Address
Once again, as they have been doing for centuries, like a pack of wild dogs the people of Russia have mauled and destroyed one of their greatest patriots. From Dostoevsky through Solzhenitsyn to Politkovskaya and now most recently Stanislav Markelov, Russians seem to relish spilling the blood of those who love the nation and elevating to highest authority those who would obliterate it. What nation can expect to survive such a course of conduct?
There are of course no words we can call upon which can adequately condemn the cowardice and malignant evil displayed on Monday afternoon by the vile reptiles who scurry through the Moscow Kremlin when their henchman sneaked up behind Markelov, one of Russia’s greatest living patriots, and put a bullet in the back of his head. The venal reptiles did not even have the courage to face him, or to use a normal pistol. Instead, they relied upon a silencer in hopes of slinking off into the shadows unnoticed, and they did not hesitate to kill a valiant young woman — Anastasia Barburova — a university student, another great Russian patriot, who dared to challenge their action.
These Stalinesque murders defy written condemnation not only because they are so inhuman, but also because they are only the latest in such a horrifyingly long litany of barbaric killings. It is more than ten years now since November 1998 when, less than four months after Vladimir Putin took the reins of power at the KGB (by then renamed FSB), Russia’s most ferocious defender of human rights, perhaps who ever lived, namely Galina Starovoitova, was shot down at her apartment building in St. Petersburg. Fast forward to October 2006, and Anna Politkovskaya, the direct successor to Statovoitova, meets exactly the same fate, with dozens of other lesser-known fatalities in between. And now Markelov, the lawyer counterpart to Politkovskaya, who in fact served as her legal counsel, and Barburova, one of Politkovskaya’s disciples. It seems the people of Russia, through their official representatives, mean to rend up the tree of liberty root and branch and fling in onto their pagan bonfire.
We condemn their suicidal ignorance, cowardice and malice. Russia appears to be a nation of bandits governed by bandits with no intention or even desire for anything remotely like civilization. We are appalled. The people of Russia stand teetering on the precipice of a chasm of absolute barbarism from which, upon falling in, there is no escape. It hard at this moment to decide whether the world would be better off reaching out desperately to get them away from the brink or better off pushing them in.